Twice a Yellow Jacket

After 20 Years of Professional Experience, Paul Konikowski Finishes Round Two at Georgia Tech

▲ Click image for Countdown to Commencement

There’s a common refrain among students who make it through Georgia Tech’s classrooms and come out the other side with a degree: I Got Out. It’s a badge of honor and a shared bond among those who endure the institute’s rigorous academic demands. More than a few of those men and women choose to come back and further their education, knowing full well what awaits them. Paul Konikowski, Manager of AV Contracting at HB Communications, is one such alum. His BS in computer engineering will now share wall space with a master of science in cybersecurity, which Paul earned this spring. The master’s came 20 years after the baccalaureate.

Now 44, Paul has had the distinction of going through the Georgia Tech gauntlet both in-person and online. He is among the first graduates in the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity, which turned two this year. Paul was part of the first 250 students who were accepted into the online master’s program. – JP

Paul Konikowski


Program highlights: What I really liked about this program was the mix of structure and flexibility. I am the type of person who works best when I have a deadline to meet. The weekly videos, reading assignments, projects, papers, quizzes and exams, all helped to keep me on track towards the degree. At the same time, the asynchronous, online format of the program allowed me to find my own time each week for doing the work, while juggling a full-time job and freelance audiovisual installation projects.

Parting advice: If you are interested in a master’s program or any other higher education, but you think you are “too old” to go back to school, I’m here to tell you, you aren’t too old. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to comprehend the material but was pleasantly surprised how well my brain worked after so many years away from formal education. And I’m not the only one; a large percentage of my classmates were over 40, 50, or even 60 years old.  Trust me, you are NOT too old, you CAN do this, and your brain WILL work!

What’s next: I hope to leverage my experience in AV (audiovisual) and ICT (information and communications technology) and combine them with the skills and knowledge I gained in the cybersecurity master’s program. There is a growing need for security-minded individuals in the IoT industry, and I hope to be a thought-leader in the space, being the “bridge” between the technical folks and the non-technical people who are responsible for creating and enforcing the security policies within their organizations. In terms of learning, my next step is to research hardware vulnerabilities and tainted firmware attacks, maybe set up a test lab, and try to ethically hack some audiovisual devices. I really enjoy teaching others about cybersecurity, and writing articles for AV/IT/IoT industry magazines.